The Missing Element in Your Daily Workout Routine
Diversifying your movements can help you become stronger, avoid injury, and avoid burnout.
If you run five miles regularly or can deadlift double your bodyweight, you may appear to be the definition of fit. But—if the purpose of fitness is to improve how you feel and move throughout life—getting really good at putting one foot in front of the other or lifting a load only gives you an advantage in a single category of movement. Being functionally fit, however, is being able to avoid injury and move in all the directions the body was designed to move, with full range of motion.
“Life is dynamic,” says Colby Hazelip, trainer at Elev8d Fitness. “So the main issue with most standard workouts is that the motions are linear in nature.” In other words, rarely—if ever—is 100 pounds packaged as nicely as a couple of plates evenly distributed on a barbell in the real world. You’re actually strength training when you’re carrying groceries, picking up your kids, or helping your daughter move apartments. “Moving that kind of weight in the real world requires way more than just strong quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It’s a completely different strength. There are over 650 muscles in the human body, yet how many of these muscles do weightlifters ever really focus on working?”
Running, meanwhile, is considered by most of us one of the best forms of cardio conditioning—and it is. But the same linear problem applies here: Running through the park works your lungs and your legs, but it’s a repetitive, singular motion and direction.
“True functionality comes from being able to do any movement in good form. Unless you train to be able to perform all of the eight core movements, your body will lack the strength necessary to safely carry out even some of the most simple life tasks,” Hazelip explains. Case in point: While running may seem like the most functional movement in existence, it also creates a tightness in your hips that can only be helped by counteracting the repetitive forward motion—which requires you to do activities other than running.
Fitness for Life
Let’s be clear: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing these kinds of workouts—so long as you’re training whole-body as well. Running, lifting, cycling—anything that doesn’t move your body through all the motions it was designed for is an incomplete workout. “Partial workouts yield partial results, so limiting your diversity of movements will lead to imbalances which leads to dysfunction regardless of what you’re capable of doing,” Hazelip adds.
He would know, because he’s been there himself. “The time in my life where I was lifting the most, I developed a complex that I was very fit simply because I looked strong and could move heavy weights. But in reality I was less fit than I had been before. I limited myself to the weight room and though I hit a point of newfound strength, I decreased my range of motion and was falling short in other styles of athletic performance. I was lacking the diversity,” he shares.
Now, instead of just lifting all the time, Hazelip says he keeps a mix of weight training, cross-training, yoga, and Elev8d, and that’s what keeps him functionally fit.
One huge bonus of adding more diversity to your regular routine is that it can actually help you perform better in your sport of choice. One study in the US Army Medical Department Journal found women who cross-trained in addition to running or lifting had more muscular and cardiovascular endurance compared to others who exclusively ran or exclusively lifted weights.
Remember, our bodies have more than 650 muscles. Working those small, neglected ones are where real power, strength, and functionality come from to power your other workouts.
How Elev8d Can Help
“One of the greatest things that Elev8d does is strengthen the body from the inside out,” Hazelip says. No, that’s not code for how good the routines makes you feel emotionally (even though they do). Elev8d actually works the interior muscles specifically—deep, foundational muscles like the psoas—while still engaging all of the other muscles—and it does so in a way that promotes true functional strength, he explains.
Another plus: Adding other motions to your movement routine helps you avoid workout burnout. “Everyone hits fitness plateaus and that’s mostly because of a lack of diversity of workouts,” Hazelip says. Yes, some people find comfort in routine and, understandably, want to stick with what workout has given them success. But any growth they’ve seen up to that point came from doing something different than they did before, Hazelip points out.
We’re definitely not saying you have to trade your sport of choice for another completely—if you love to run, definitely keep running. Nothing will compare to the mental boost you get from doing something you love. But adding other forms of exercise to the mix can help you avoid feeling like a hamster on a wheel from doing the same workout day in and day out.
“Branching out to put your body through as many different styles of exercise, all while in the right alignment, is the best way to attempt to achieve a state of truly functional fitness,” Hazelip adds.